Anonymising talk submissions for DevOpsDays London

21 May 2017

I’m one of the organizers of DevOpsDays London 2017, and for all sorts of reasons I’ve ended up with the job of anonymising talk submissions so that the rest of the committee can review them without bias. We’re trying to run a diverse and inclusive conference, so this is an important step to make sure we end up with a diverse set of speakers. Given all of this, I thought I’d talk about the process I’m using to anonymise the submissions.

We’re accepting talk submissions via a Google form, which puts the data into a Google sheet which only I have access to. Every so often I copy and paste the titles, abstracts, and any other relevant details of new submissions into a text file which is version controlled in git and stored in a GitLab private repo. I then anonymise it all by removing personal names, company names, and gendered pronouns. I also create a unique ID for the submission, which hides the order of submission. I use a script which encrypts the ID with Crypt::Skip32::Base32Crockford (the key is different in the copy I’m using).

Here’s an example:


The plan is to take these anonymised submissions and place them into a Google form which the reviewing panel will then score on a scale of 0-3:

We also plan to make a copy of this form, allow anyone to review the submissions, and use the data from that to help shape our eventual schedule.

So please submit a talk to make more work for me. We’re also still looking for sponsors to make DevOpsDays London as inclusive as possible. Ticket sales are already open, too.